No, it’s not a typo: The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported a 1,546% increase in unemployment claims for the week ending March 21, compared with the week before. That translates into another stratospheric number: 155,815 new claims.
That is by far the Labor Department’s highest total of single-week claims. Initial claims climbed past 46,000 in one week after Superstorm Sandy in November 2012 and shot up to 25,385 for a week in July 2010, the low point of the Great Recession.
There’s no better evidence of how COVID-19 is cutting a swathe through the state’s workforce and businesses.
New Jersey has stepped up its efforts to serve the newly unemployed, creating a jobs portal to match people looking for work with immediate openings in industries on the front lines of the pandemic. Applicants no longer have to wait a week before approved benefits are paid. Further, an extension of benefits beyond the current 26-week maximum is all but certain.